This week’s Discover Challenge: The Story Behind a Door.
Find inspiration in a door, real or imagined.
I’ve discussed in past posts the story of how I found a revived love for writing, but I’ve never actually talked about how I came into a great writing opportunity that has meant the world to me for the last year.
My door is not an actual door, but a door in the metaphorical sense. It’s actually the story of two doors.
In February 2015, I reached what I felt was a lull in my life. I was unhappy with a few things about my situation (a relationship and an injury). Despite feeling that way, I plowed on with my life. I watched movies to fill the void in my life, and sporadically updated my blog. I had been following a Facebook page called Retroist since the year before, and a post on a particular day caught my attention.
It was seeking new writers.
I decided “why not?” and emailed the person whose address was in the post. He responded back fairly quickly, introducing himself and explaining how writing for Retroist works. I liked the sound of everything, and said I was interested. My “lull” became a perfect storm of sorts: my relationship ended (no lie) the next day, my grandma died the day after, and I felt even more uninspired. You take the good (relationship over), you take the bad (grandma passes away), you take the second week of February 2015 (that week). I kept the Retroist response email in my inbox for when I felt I was ready, but that wasn’t the right time.
A few months go by – grandma was laid to rest, I started and finished physical therapy, I plunged head-first into keeping busy with work, wrote occasionally, and rebuilt my life in the aftermath of that perfect storm. I started taking small day trips and penning posts about them, but the email sat in my inbox, waiting. I even moved over to WordPress and began my blog anew. I was smiling, laughing, and finding a renewed energy that I had in me all along, but just needed to let loose.
I went back into my inbox in June 2015 to check my emails one day, and there was the email. I decided it was the right time to submit my first post to Retroist.
It went live on July 4, 2016, which is symbolic in the sense that we celebrate our country’s freedom on that day. To me, it was the beginning of my new writer’s life that started to be paved the day I opened my WordPress blog. It was sweet freedom from worrying about what other people think about my writing, and the beginning of amazing new connections and friendships forged through writing for the site.
I’m still happy to be a part of it. It doesn’t pay my bills (my actual job does that), but it brings me emotional satisfaction to see my name as part of something. To say that Retroist has made me a better writer is putting it accurately. Retroist challenges me to explore the past and write about it. I delve into each post like an archaeologist – I dig deep, craft carefully, and take a ton of pictures. And by pictures, I mean screenshots. I do my research thoroughly. I find appropriate videos. I carefully pen a new bio in the flavor of each post. I hit “Submit for Approval” each time with a smile, knowing that I wrote something I’m proud of. And I still get giddy each time I’m tagged in a Facebook post about my latest article.
I love the compliments, the “hey I remember this!”, and the friends I’ve made as a result of my work on Retroist. I love writing now, it envelopes me and draws me in to my own little world. I’ve been told that I write as though I’m speaking to the readers. That’s my aim – I never want to talk down on anyone. I’d rather the audience know that I’m on their level, and that I’m even happy to teach them something they don’t know.
In October 2015, I had the opportunity to record a segment for a podcast, and even discussed the making of my segment around the same time. I’m proud of my little acting job, but I also loved that I wrote my portion of the segment, and was able to finally read my segment out loud. I admit, it was a nice departure from giving the audience something to read, but I’m also not huge on voiceover or camera work, so this was a HUGE step for me.
The door, for me, is in the metaphorical sense. It’s not an actual door, but an opportunity. It’s an opportunity I am happy I have, and a chance I decided to take, all by answering a post on Facebook. That was the first door, and the email was the second door. Everything that has come after, that’s all the surprises behind the door.